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The Construction Engineering Management (CEM) program greeted a total of 35 new master’s students during the August 18th and August 19th Graduate Orientation.  This is the 31st formal Boot Camp hosted by CEM since its inception as an online program in 2009.  Since then, CEM has continued to thrive with over 135 active students and 814 alumni. This was an excellent opportunity for the incoming academics to meet the CEM faculty, staff, and their new classmates, in a convenient virtual setting.

A portion of the group is pictured below:


The Boot Camp experience marks the official beginning of a track of study in which students will typically take five semesters of fully online graduate courses to earn a Master of Engineering (MEng) degree with a concentration in CEM.  The plan of study takes 19-months to complete but there is a small percentage of students that opt to fast-track and complete their degree in 12-months. The CEM degree is offered through the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE).

During the first day of orientation, students were asked a few questions to learn more about the cohort, who range in age from approximately 23 to 64.  The Polling software captured the student’s anonymous responses from their devices and shows that 90% of the class is currently employed.  30% of students work in the industry of construction and project management, 20% in engineering and architecture, 10% work as equipment or material suppliers, 10% work in manufacturing, and 10% are in educational positions. To dive further into specific duties, we see that students mostly hold titles as engineers, inspectors, project managers, and schedulers.

Students were also asked: What motivates YOU to pursue a graduate education?

  • bootcamp photo“Career
  • Subordinate training.”
  • Start my own company.”
  • “Improve potential earnings.”
  • Broaden industry knowledge.
  • Furthering my education.”
  • “Certifications and credentials.”
  • “Better employment opportunities.”
  • “Career change.”

To help students achieve these goals, Boot Camp is structured to give the diverse group of working professionals, located throughout the U.S and abroad, a chance to learn about: UAB policies, time management skills, the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), how course content is delivered and received, computer and software requirements, proper communication methods, online proctored examination procedures. The cohort also participated in a few beneficial group exercises, which allow students to immediately connect with their cohort, encourages academic collaboration throughout the entire program, and promotes professional peer networking opportunities. Giving them the tools to successfully balance work, graduate school, and family is huge in helping them achieve their overall goals.

Students began day two by presenting their live “Icebreaker” presentations, which is just one of several public speeches required during the CEM curriculum.  The live virtual presentations were very powerful. The engineering and construction industry relies heavily on outstanding oral communication skills, so this a very beneficial exercise to help learn how to provide an informative message and to handle any nervousness.  

Using the polling software, the class was also asked: What do YOU expect to get out of Boot Camp?

  • bootcamp photo2Better understanding of course material.”
  • How to prepare for classes.”
  • Overview of the program.”
  • “Understanding the policies and rules.”
  • Actions needed to be successful.
  • The amount of study time required.”
  • “Meeting the faculty and my classmates.”

Based on verbal closeout comments, most of the class found Boot Camp to be an excellent experience. Therefore, it is very rewarding to see that the virtual two-day event provided relevant information needed for this diverse group of students to successfully hit the ground running once classes begin. We are excited to welcome this cohort to the UAB family and to watch them grow academically.